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By Rev Colin Wong

Preached at / Published Life BPC Weekly, 2004-01-04

Text: Psalm 85:6

How would you like to begin the New Year? The world begins the New Year with a loud bang followed by wild partying. To me, this is meaningless! I wonder how you began 2004. As for me, I would like to begin it with a loud cry to the Lord, "Wilt thou not revive us [me] again: that thy people [I] may rejoice in thee?" (Psalm 85:6) 

Why do I start the New Year with a cry to God for personal revival? I believe there is no better way to start the New Year with God than to call upon him to quicken me to meet the many challenges of life ahead. In the course of my ministry, I realize that there are many things involved in the Christian ministry. And there is no way that I can cope with them without the quickening power of the Holy Spirit. Occasionally, I do experience burnt-out. I feel spiritually dry. My relationship with God is not meaningful. My preaching lacks spiritual power and authority. My prayer life is powerless. My pastoral duty is done perfunctorily. But there is a yearning within me to rekindle my love for God and for his service. So I cry to him, "Wilt thou not revive us [me] again: that thy people [I] may rejoice in thee?" Thank God that he never fails to answer my cry of desperation.

Some of you may ask, "What is revival?" The word "revival" comes from the Latin re, "again," and vivo, "to live." Revival means "to live again." Revival is a regaining of spiritual consciousness. Revival is the restoring to life of believers and churches that have previously experienced the life of God in being born again of the Spirit, but who have become cold, worldly and ineffective. 

Dearly beloved, spiritual dryness is a common phenomenon among God's people. It is a disease so prevalent among them that there is scarcely one of us who has not at some time or other suffered from it. In fact, if we were to be honest, and to judge ourselves rightly, some of us may even be in this condition now. A Christian who is suffering from spiritual dryness is a backsliding Christian. C.H. Spurgeon rightly said, "A backsliding Christian is not a 'back runner' nor is he a 'back leaper,' but a backslider. That is to say, he slides back with an easy, effortless motion, softly, quietly, perhaps unsuspected by himself or anybody else." And to deal with this spiritual problem we need to take stock of our lives. We need to come before God and ask his Holy Spirit to search and try us and see if there be any wicked way in us (Psalm 139:23, 24). We need to acknowledge our sins before him and confess them one by one to God and ask for cleansing and forgiveness (Psalm 32:5). We need to know from where we have fallen and repent from it (Revelation 2:5). 

Here are seven basic questions I ask, for personal revival. I trust they may help you also to determine from where you have fallen and to repent of it.

1) Am I content with my Christian life? The contented Christian is a sterile Christian. He has no desire in him to know Christ better. He is not interested in the things of Christ. He may know Christ by name but he does not know him intimately. However, whenever he needs him, he will call upon him for help. Otherwise, he has nothing to do with him. 

The Christian ought to know Christ better. Like Paul, he should strive to know him, the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings (Philippians 3:10). Incidentally, this phrase "That I may know him" will be our church theme verse for the New Year. Develop a holy dissatisfaction. Ask God to grant you a holy desire to seek Christ in the Written Word.

2) Am I a changed person? A Christian is a changed person. Paul said, "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Are you a changed person? You may not be perfect but you should be a changed person if you have trusted Christ to save you from sin and misery. If you do not see any changes in you, then you need to take heed to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 13:5, "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"

Jacob wrestled with God. He would not let him to go until he blessed him (Genesis 32:26). Would you also plead with God until he changes you?

3) Am I turning away from my wickedness? Paul said, "And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity" (2 Timothy 2:19b). When David sinned against God in the act of adultery and murder, he did not confess his sins for a year. He thought he could hide his wickedness from men but God did not give him rest until he acknowledged them to him and asked for forgiveness (Psalm 32:4,5).

Hosea said, "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you" (10:12). Fallow ground is dry, unproductive ground. We need to pray for cultivation of righteousness before reaping can take place. Peter said, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). Confession and repentance come before spiritual awakening.

4) Am I a hypocritical Christian? There are many play-acting Christians in the Church of Jesus Christ. They put on a Christian mask in church but they behave differently when they are out of the church. This ought not so to be. Writing to the persecuted Christians, Peter said, "Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation" (1 Peter 2:12). Christians are lights of the world. We are supposed to shine for Jesus wherever we go. Therefore, let our communication be "Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil" (Matthew 5:37).

5) Am I sharing my faith with others? Sad to say, many Christians find it unnatural to share their faith with others. One member brought a friend to church. He said that he did not know how to share Christ with him and wanted me to witness to him. I was quite taken aback. This person has known Christ for years and yet he does not know how to share his faith with his friend. Perhaps, I should encourage him to join a class of evangelism to learn the methods of sharing one's faith. There are many books on how to win souls for Christ. Go to a Christian bookstore, buy for yourself a book and start reading it and winning souls for Christ.

6) Am I a praying Christian? Sir Thomas Buxton said, "You know the value of prayer: It is precious beyond all price. Never, never neglect it." Prayer is the natural breath of the Christian. Without it, no Christian can survive spiritually. C.H. Spurgeon aptly said, "We should pray when we are in a praying mood, for it would be sinful to neglect so fair an opportunity. We should pray when we are not in a proper mood, for it would be dangerous to remain in so unhealthy a condition." 

Private and public prayer are equally important. Prayer is cultivated privately, not publicly. Do not neglect your private prayer. However, do not forget also to come to the Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting.

7) Am I a lover of God's Word? How often do I read my Bible? We must read our Bible daily. God's word is our daily food. Many Christians get undernourished and sick because they have not been feeding themselves with the milk of the Word. Peter said, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby" (1 Peter 2:2). Do not neglect reading God's Word, for without it there is no sanctification (John 17:17). Pray for a greater love for God's Word which is able to save your soul (James 1:21).

Dearly beloved, let us encourage one another in the Lord and provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24). Let us uphold one another in prayer that God may be pleased to make us alive again to serve him fervently. "Wilt thou not revive us again: that thy people may rejoice in thee?" Amen.

Vision & Mission

 

To build a united church family that is committed to making disciples through Salvation, Sanctification and Service, to the glory of God.

Verse for the Week

October 15 & 22 - The Cost of Discipleship

For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Matthew 16:25